How to Practice Self-Reflection at Work
Encouraging ourselves to develop a routine of self-reflection is important at all stages of our lives, from childhood to adulthood but also in our careers. Cultivating self-reflection techniques can be extremely beneficial for our development, as it helps to develop resilience. The workplace can sometimes trigger bad emotions, stress, mood swings, fatigue and frustration.
Jennifer Porter wrote: “Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.”
It surely helps us grow, take a good step back from tricky or difficult situations and gives us strength and knowledge every step of the way. Taking time to observe our thought processes is a great opportunity to make the most out of every moment and career milestone in our lives. Self-reflection is not an innate gift, it requires practice and some real mental gymnastics. But at the end of the day, mastering the art of introspection and self-reflection is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and today, I am going to share some tools to perfect your self-reflection technique and become the best teammate and business mind you could ever be. HOW TO MAKE SELF-REFLECTION A PART OF YOUR DAILY LIFE AND CAREER Our lives and careers get extremely busy, exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. Therefore, it is extremely easy to get lost and lose touch with ourselves. So many distractions and responsibilities are pulling us further from listening to our true self. It also makes us susceptible to a very critical and unfair little voice that criticizes ourselves and others constantly. As a result of this, it is easy to fall into a trap of negative thinking, emotional repression, feelings of depression and growing insecurities. Not to worry, there are many ways to make self-reflection a part of your work life as a habit. It takes time to adjust and get used to a new practice. But before you know it, you can become adept in the process of inner work. These six techniques will help you in your process of developing a practice of self-reflection and provide restoration in the process, making a real change in your workday by day.
THE SELF-REFLECTION TOOLBOX There are a lot of techniques to practice self-reflection. Today, we choose to focus on simple techniques to turn self-reflection into a daily routine and make it an integral part of your life and career.
1. Ask yourself some questions The starting point of the self-reflection process begins with asking ourselves the right questions to process who we are, what we do and how we think and feel. But there is an important distinction to make and it is very easy to fall into bad practices and doing this exercise wrong. I invite you to read these questions and feel what they make you feel, instantaneously. Before adopting these questions and what they inspire in you, reference the five other tools to help you create a space to practice self-reflection.
Am I taking care of myself physically?
Do I like spending time with myself alone?
Am I letting matters that are out of control stress me out?
Am I achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself?
What matters the most in my life?
What do I love about myself?
What do I love about my career so far?
Have I made someone smile today?
When did I accomplish something extraordinary at work?
When did I last push the boundaries of my comfort zone?
What small act of kindness was I once shown that I will never forget?
What do I need to change about myself?
What do I feel grateful for?
My favourite way to spend the day is…
If I could tell my teenage self one thing, it would be…
List 10 things that make you smile
When was the last time you said something kind to a coworker?
What is my biggest distraction?
Am I using my time wisely?
Am I taking anything for granted?
Am I employing a healthy perspective?
Am I listening to my true me?
Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day positively?
Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?
Am I obsessing with work instead of enjoying the journey?
2. Choose your method Every person needs to find their own method because whatever you choose will be deeply personal and needs to feel authentic and comfortable. Some people like to lay down with dimmed lights whereas some will like to sit cross-legged on a comfy cushion. Some others will prefer to be outside on a sunny day, bare feet on the grass, feeling the energies of Nature. There is no right answer when it comes to picking your method, just try to think about a specific environment that makes you feel safe and calm. Remember that the goal is to turn inward and look, in the present moment, at all the thoughts and feelings that arise during your time of self-reflection. Practice self-reflection in a place and a setup that feels like yourself, that you love and cherish, maybe also a place that makes you feel special. No matter what happens, pick a soothing and peaceful environment where serenity and tranquillity are queens and rule the queendom. Even if it is during your lunch break at work or during a pause, savour the moment, it is YOUR moment.
3. Schedule time By scheduling a specific time for self-reflection, you are holding yourself accountable for practising this very important skill. Starting with a realistic goal is the best way to give this new habit an easy start to grow stronger as you make progress. You can start with a five to ten minutes practice a day and see if this fits well in your schedule and if it feels right at the moment. Of course, any type of practice requires commitment and devotion but remember to not turn it into an obsession which would only lead to negative results. If possible, schedule a time of the day when you are as relaxed as possible, when you can free your mind from work obligations, stressful thoughts or family responsibilities. All in all, it has to be a moment that you take for yourself, to communicate with yourself and work toward self-improvement and knowledge through self-inquiry.
4. Meditation If the word “self-reflection” scares you a little bit, be reassured: there is a way to start this journey with a precious and invaluable tool: meditation. Before you jump into the big adventure of self-inquiry, remember to clear your mind and to take it easy. Getting to know yourself and mastering self-reflection is a step-by-step kind of process. You can start your first two weeks with five minutes of meditation daily. You can use an app or a video to guide you through your first meditation sessions or do it by yourself if you feel comfortable with it. Getting used to clearing your mind, getting in touch with your body and your soul and feeling each and every little sensation in your body is a good place to start and prepare for self-inquiry. 5. Journaling: free associations and automatic writing Another tool to consider is journaling. Writing daily in a journal is a practice that helps to get in touch with yourself and regroup your thoughts. There is no imperative to solve the problem or to come to any conclusion: simply letting go and writing or drawing in a notebook can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic. It also helps to unfold the many layers of an experience or a feeling, by connecting with our heart and mind and connecting them on paper with ink. It is not magic, it is the simple beauty of self-care, self-inquiry, and self-reflection. Pondering life is an important step in dealing with our emotions. Free association is a technique that is generally used in the psychoanalysis process. Some also call it “automatic writing”, like the Surrealists painters for example. Both want you to tap into your subconscious and write anything that comes to mind, without filter, without double-checking or taking time to “think it through”. A liberating process that can help reveal spontaneous emotions and give us more knowledge of our true self which is a great help in our careers and our relations to coworkers and hierarchy. Climbing the scale of work success is an exhausting wild journey that only a genuine look in the soul mirror can tame.
6. Take a moment for gratitude A question that is interesting and inspiring to ask ourselves is “What am I grateful for?”. Taking some time to list three things that we are grateful for every morning in a journal or on your phone notepad app is a good way to put difficult situations and emotions into perspective. Especially when the day has been long and challenging at work, it is one of the easiest and more cathartic exercises to refocus on the essentials. Lifting the weight of overwhelming negative thoughts that we put emphasis on, sometimes unconsciously, by listing things that we are grateful for or acknowledging people or things that we love is an inestimable tool.